This year, I turned the Big 4-0. You know what that means? That means I’m as old as how long the children of Israel were in the wilderness when they left Egypt with Moses before getting to the Promised land. (Yeah, that Moses…with the parting of the Red Sea and then the 40 years of wandering after that.) Wow! I’ve been alive that long? Crazy.
So, I couldn’t help but think about what 40 years has done to me. It’s a milestone year…and the following post represents one of my Reflections of 40 years, otherwise known as “Forty-flections”.
Learning to Stand
Recently, one of my sons said and did something out of anger that got him in trouble. When my wife and I discovered his infraction, it gave us great concern…because it was unlike him to do that, and, in today’s world, it could actually get him into much bigger trouble than what any youngster would think.
Upon reflection, I noticed that many days and even a few weeks prior, he was in a pretty mean mood. Either he was always upset at the smallest things that his siblings would do, or his words and actions were just abrupt, inconsiderate, and sometimes just plain rude. My wife and I weren’t quite sure what was going on because in between episodes, he seemed pretty “normal”.
So, when this “trouble” event happened…and I had a chance to intervene…I now had an ear that may not have been willing to listen but was open enough to hear what I had to say. It was a small window of opportunity…but it was enough. All that came through my mind as I approached this situation…and as I approached the doors to my son’s heart…was: Handle it as Christ would — with firmness wrapped in tender mercy.
I expressed to him the dangers of lashing out in anger at anyone and how every little word that we use now can and will be used to convict us. I explained how this world, and especially the computers that “read” or “hear” our very words, will not be able to tell what is fact or fiction from the words that come from us. So, they will judge us by the very words that we use.
Even more than the words and actions that we use in anger, I was concerned about his willingness to be Angry and Unwillingness to be more Gentle and Loving. I explained that he fell for one of the traps of the Adversary. He fell for the easiness of Anger and its addictiveness. He probably thought he could handle himself, that he could control the Anger that was within him. We, as his parents, fell for the trap of thinking he was just going through a behavioral phase….until this happened. We realize now that trying to handle the Trap of Anger all by yourself is like trying to fight the Adversary with all your strength, all by yourself.
I told him that we weren’t angry at him. Rather, we were scared….as scared as a parent pulling a child away from a cliff we didn’t realize was there, suddenly and abruptly. This was a cliff he didn’t see…and neither did we. So we were just glad that we got to him before things got worse.
As I reached for him to tell him that I loved him, he wished to recoil from me….in shame. He cried. They weren’t the tears of regret of having been caught. No. He cried tears of remorse. Tears that felt the bitterness of having done wrong. Tears of shame. And I embraced him in all the love I could muster within me, tightly. I wanted him to know that I truly loved him…despite what he did. And I wanted him to physically feel it from me through my embrace.
So, there we stood, he…in my arms…in tears. And I just embraced him, quietly.
I softly expressed, “You don’t have to fight the Adversary alone. We should never think that we can fight the Adversary alone. He is much stronger than we are. He has a lot more minions fighting us than we can see.
You can stand against him…but don’t stand alone. You don’t have to. That’s why your Mom and I are here. That’s why Christ is here….and He’s much stronger than the Adversary. Together, we can stand against the Adversary. And together, we can be strong enough to do so.”
And on that day, we did.
My son is much happier now. There were some things he needed to take care of to resolve his situation. Making things right often takes a particular kind of courage when you must face the ones you’ve offended. But we were there with him, helping him along. Even if he was the one who had to “face the crowd”, he knew he could trust me to be there with him, that he had an embrace to run into in the end.
There is a power in God’s Real Love that the world just doesn’t get…and it is a power that enables us to Stand, despite the Adversary.
Stand on your own…but don’t stand alone.
We can stand on our own, but we don’t have to stand alone.
Let us Stand with God, with Jesus Christ, with our family, with the true kind of love that heals the wounded soul, that binds families together, the love that waits with patience, uplifts the fallen, and brings peace to troubled moments…and troubling times.
And when we do…we prevail.
The LDS Lamplighter